Soon, sweat to power small electronic devices

Researchers at the University of California San Diego have designed a sensor in the form of a temporary tattoo that can monitor a person`s progress during exercises. It can also generate electricity from their perspiration.

Updated: Aug 13, 2014, 19:59 PM IST

Zee Media Bureau

New York: Researchers at the University of California San Diego have designed a sensor in the form of a temporary tattoo that can monitor a person`s progress during exercises. It can also generate electricity from their perspiration.

Researchers hope the device, which works by detecting and responding to `lactate` (naturally present in sweat), might someday be able to power heart monitors, watches and even your phones using sweat.

“Lactate is a very important indicator of how you are doing during exercise,” said Wenzhao Jia, study author and a postdoctoral student at University of California San Diego.
Jia and her colleagues developed a faster, easier and more comfortable way to measure lactate during exercise.

They imprinted a flexible lactate sensor onto a temporary tattoo paper.

The sensors on the device contain an enzyme that strips electrons from lactate, generating a weak electrical current.

To find out the tattoo`s ability to generate power, researchers placed it on to the upper arms of 10 healthy volunteers, all of whom were at different fitness levels.
They measured the electrical current produced as the volunteers exercised at increasing resistance levels on a stationary bicycle for 30 minutes.

The team went a step further and made a sweat-powered bio-battery.

They found that people in the low-fitness group were able to produce more power (70 microWatts per cm2 of skin).

“The current produced is not that high, but we are working on enhancing it so that eventually we could power some small electronic devices,” Jia claimed.

Acording to researchers, biobatteries are safer than conventional batteries because they do not explode or leak toxic chemicals. Also, they recharge more quickly and use renewable energy sources.

The team described the approach at the 248th national meeting and exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS) this week.

(With Agency Inputs)